From 2010-2012 PET was the applicant organisation for the Findhorn EcoKit Project CCF 908 Sustainability Education and Carbon Reduction in Moray Schools and CCF 1221 Sustainability Education and Carbon Reduction in Scottish Schools.
In 2012 PET received Junior Climate Challenge Fund (JCCF) grant funding for the Moray Junior Eco-Forum. The idea was to bring together children from schools across Moray to create a young people’s think-tank on environmental change, giving them an opportunity to manage a carbon saving initiative in their own communities and to run a carbon-reduction project of their own.
The students received training in project and financial management and the work underpinned enterprise, eco-school and carbon reduction initiatives already working well in Scottish schools.
The project was a partnership with young people from Moray schools and an opportunity to pilot an approach to greater empowerment and youth-led initiatives in Scotland. It built upon the trust of a shared relationship between Moray schools and the Park Ecovillage Community and maintained the public profile of carbon reduction as a way to tackle climate change and meet national targets.
The aim was to extend the great work achieved from previous projects by shifting the focus to child-led carbon reducing initiatives. We aimed to provide a supportive environment to encourage empowerment, independence and confidence. The result would be confident carbon literate students running carbon reducing projects in their communities. The project would enable children to gain a deeper understanding of the issues concerning carbon footprint.
In order to secure the funding JCCF asked PET to adapt the original outcomes to more directly address their funding requirements. Here are the updated outcomes:
- CO2 Outcomes: Cut CO2 emissions by 40.6 tonnes per annum by working with the families of 201 Moray pupils to reduce their food waste by 25%
- Community Outcome 1: To improve the schools’ community awareness and engagement in a low carbon future by managing the Food Waste Challenge component and their own initiative
- Community Outcome 2: To increase the work- based skills of the eco-reps taking part
The Moray Junior Eco-Forum was a project run by and for primary children from several Moray schools by Park Ecovillage Trust. It was a unique experiment with funding from the Junior Climate Challenge Fund, to see if children as young as 9-12 years could initiate and manage their own carbon reducing projects in their schools’ communities.
The children met in the Forum in the The Park Ecovillage Community at Findhorn from October 2012 – July 2013. They received training in project and financial management, group and team building and were placed in positions of responsibility directing a ‘Food Waste Challenge’ in their local areas which they completed by Christmas 2012. From the beginning of 2013 they researched into carbon saving initiatives that they could run themselves and a ‘Big Idea’ took place throughout May.
The ‘Big Idea’ was in the end two activities. Waste Less Wednesday was a campaign by the children to get their school and local families to identify, switch off and avoid using all non essential energy devices every Wednesday through May, to save money, energy and the planet. The ‘Big Bag’ idea targeted large stores in major Moray towns, with the children setting up their own campaign pitches and giving out 100% recycled nylon bags each made from three plastic bottles to members of the public to use instead of supermarket plastic bags. The schools ran a logo design challenge for the campaign, with the winners from each school being voted on by the Forum. The winning logo was a central motif of the children’s campaign, used on the posters, leaflets and bags used in the ‘Kids Take Action’ campaign and events.
The Forum was made up of 2 eco-reps from each of 8 primary schools across Moray: Aberlour, Alves, Burghead, Findochty, Greenwards, Hopeman, St.Gerardine and St.Thomas. The eco committees in each of the schools supported the eco reps with their work and responsibilities. Schools welcomed the project which continues to build upon the Eco-Schools’ initiative.
The Moray Junior Eco-Forum was also unique in that head teachers viewed the experiential learning that takes place in the Findhorn Community, as being an example of a curriculum enriching activity, supporting deep learning and the Curriculum for Excellence’s four capacities.
The Forum met once a month in school time, for two and a half hours. The children were transported to and from the Findhorn Community.
Findhorn’s Park Ecovillage Trust ‘s project team are themselves teachers and scientists, with a background in sustainability education. The team worked with Moray Primary and Secondary schools through the Findhorn EcoKit project from September 2010 to March 2012 and developed the relationship with schools that has enabled this new model of interaction with a community provider to take place.
- To witness the eco reps over the course of the year increase their understanding of what reduces carbon and what doesn’t
- To witness the eco reps over the course of the year grow in confidence and ability in carrying out projects
- The practical sessions of the eco – forum were great examples of experiential forms of learning. We approached the assimilation of project management skills and carbon literacy in creative ways. We invited Leslie the eco clown, we had tours of the Findhorn eco village, invited in community experts where appropriate. Collin Chamberlain the local community shop owner for example illustrated beautifully to the reps such things as profit margins, making difficult decisions and general business management of a sustainability aware enterprise.
- We facilitated group learning opportunities wherever possible encouraging the students to share wisdom and knowledge and ideas.
- The parliament trip was a great success and captured the overall essence of the project. The children were excited, and confident, and delivered their presentations to the MSPs and civil servants competently and enthusiastically. Duncan Easter observed that ‘The MSPs took a real interest and they saw it as important work.’